Inside: Learn Words of Encouragement for kids that will inspire and motivate in the face of challenging or stressful situations.
When you think back to a favorite teacher, coach, or mentor during your childhood, can you pinpoint exactly what it was about them that made such a positive difference?
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I’m guessing it wasn’t the one that yelled the loudest.
Or even the one that handed out the best candy and prizes.
I’d be willing to bet, that the special adult standing out in your memory offered you words of encouragement and they stuck. Probably more than you had realized.
I’d guess that because of the positive and encouraging tone that person set, they were also able to be straightforward and honest with you, in a way that helped you to learn more about yourself and reach your potential.
Research actually found that “schoolchildren who received words of encouragement from a teacher are significantly more likely to continue their education beyond the age of 16 than those who do not”.
The positive effects of encouragement can go far beyond teachers using encouraging words for students.
When parents and caregivers also use encouraging words for kids, they have the power to change the trajectory of a child’s day, and maybe even their life.
Why words of encouragement for kids work
Research tells us that words of encouragement are so powerful for kids because as opposed to praising (which we are often tempted to do as parents), which focuses on our opinion or judgment of what our child is doing (“Good job coloring honey”), encouragement is objective, non-judgemental, and focuses in specifically on what the child is working hard at (“I see you’re washing the paintbrush off carefully after every color”).
Essentially, words of encouragement for kids help draw a child’s attention to a specific aspect of their work, helping them see and appreciate its value and in turn, improving their intrinsic (not extrinsic which is based on the value judgments of caregivers) motivation and pride.
Tips for offering positive words of encouragement to kids
- Find actions and qualities you genuinely appreciate, kids pick up on it if it’s inauthentic.
- The more specific the encouragment, the better
- Focus on the process (or their effort) more than the outcome of any given task
- Get down on their level and try to see things from their perspective
- Aim to offer several encouraging phrases each day (your child often gets more negative feedback from the world than positive!)
- If your child is upset or emotionally dysregulated, you may need to support them in finding a few calm down strategies for kids before they’re reading to recieve encouragement in a productive way.
Words of Encouragment for Kids in any Situation
These positive phrases will come to the rescue in times of stress when finding the right response and positive words as a parent can be challenging.
When your child is upset
I can see you’re upset, I’m here for you.
You can be the boss of your anger.
Feelings are like waves, they come and go.
All feelings are ok, but you need to be safe.
Would you like a hug?
It’s ok to be mad or angry, it’s not ok to hurt others.
It feels yucky to be so upset, let’s find something that helps you feel better.
It’s healthy to feel angry and frustrated sometimes.
Your breath is your body’s magic power for calming down.
When your child is feeling stuck
All you need to do is take the next step.
I wonder what needs to be done next?
Feeling stuck means a breakthrough is coming!
I see you’re feeling stuck and haven’t figured it out YET.
I know you’ll find a way.
It’s ok to give yourself a break.
You can always ask for help.
It looks like you’re struggling. What’s up?
You get to choose your next move.
It’s OK to not have the answer, that means you’re learning.
When your child is scared or nervous
I believe in you.
Being brave means you can be SCARED and STILL DO IT ANYWAY (if it’s good for you).
You’ve got what it takes to do this.
Everyone feels scared sometimes.
I wonder what would help you feel braver?
You’ve overcome challenges like this before.
Who inspires you to be courageous and brave?
What’s making you uncomfortable?
I see that you are braver and stronger than you think!
When your child feels negative
You can choose your thoughts.
It sounds like you’re stuck. How can I help you move forward?
Positive thinking leads to a positive day.
Everyone has hard/off days sometimes.
It’s time to move on, how can we take these lemons and make lemonade?
You are an overcomer.
Let’s find some more helpful ways to think about the situation.
I wonder how many things we can name that we’re grateful for?
Tomorrow is a new day.
When your child needs help with friends
Friends can be different than us. That’s ok!
Remember the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated yourself.
All friends disagree sometimes.
“Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle” -Plato
Talking things out calmly will strengthen your friendship.
Good friends support and encourage each other.
Kindness makes the world go round.
You deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.
Your words leave an imprint on the heart of others.
You’ll rise by lifting others (based on the quote by Robert Ingersoll)
We’re all learning and sometimes a friend needs grace and forgiveness.
It’s ok to say goodbye to a friend sometimes if they’re not taking care of your heart.
When your child needs motivation
Trying your best is what matters.
Don’t look at the whole mountain, just take the first step.
Dreams don’t work unless you do.
Once you accomplish _________ then you can ______________.
What tools would help you succeed with this?
What’s something you’re looking forward to when you’re done?
When you believe in yourself, it is possible.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
Every moment is a new chance to start again.
What roadblocks are getting in the way of you accomplishing _______________.
When your child needs to perservere
I see so much greatness in you every day when ________________.
You can do anything you want to if you stick with it long enough (based on the quote from Helen Keller)
Persistence is the secret ingredient to success.
How will you feel when you accomplish this?
You are strong and have what it takes.
What could you do to refill your tank right now?
What would help you put forth your best effort?
When your child makes a mistake
Mistakes are the best opportunities to learn something new.
Your mistakes don’t define who you are as a person.
Everyone on the planet makes mistakes sometimes! You will too.
What will you do to help fix your mistake?
It’s how you handle your mistake that makes the biggest difference.
We can learn some important things from this mistake.
Mistakes make you human and give you a chance to grow strong character.
I make mistakes too. Just this week I _______________________.
When your child needs validation
I see you working so hard to _______________.
You are capable.
You are loved no matter what.
I have faith in you.
I see your heart.
The person you are amazes me.
I am so grateful to be your parent.
You are worthy of love and attention.
Encouraging and positive words set your child up for success
No matter the situation, these encouraging phrases for kids will help your child recognize that their power lies within, and not within the judgments and opinions of others.
Instead of falling into the comparison trap of looking to other classmates and co-workers, they’ll be more inclined to focus on their own merits and effort…
…and if you’re lucky, you may just make it onto that list of adults that make a lasting impact on your child’s view of themselves and their abilities.
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About Angela Pruess LMFT
Welcome! I’m Angela, a Licensed Children’s Mental Health Professional, Positive Parenting coach, and mom to Spirited Kids that help me learn and grow (grey hairs) every single day. I believe EVERY child deserves to live their BEST life and that emotional health is the magic key to lifelong success and happiness. Read more about me and the Parents with Confidence manifesto.